Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fuckwit

Those of us with Facebook accounts and half a brain, know not to post anything disparaging because a friend of a friend of a friend of theirs will probably see it. Not so a silly soldier. Since the world is absorbed with all things Royal Weddingy (yeh, I'm watching it on Teev even though I don't really give a shit) . . this seems kind of appropriate:

A Facebook rant which included calling royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton a "cow" has resulted in a Scots Guard's dismissal, at least from his wedding parade assignment on Friday. It has not resulted in his removal from his Buckingham Palace security duties, yet.
The Facebook post took place after Kate Middleton and Prince William drove by Scots Guardsman Cameron Reilly, sort of snubbing him. Scots Guardsman Cameron Reilly wrote on his: "hur and william drove past me on friday n all a got was a sh**ty wave while she looked the opposite way from me, stupid stuck up cow am a not good enough for them! posh bitch am totally with u on this 1 who reely gives a f*** about hur."
The snubbing and posting apparently took place in March. Reilly was going to beone of the several hundred Scots Guards who are scheduled to line the route for the wedding procession on Friday, April 29, but not any longer.
As a member of the Scots Guard, the 18-year-old Reilly serves in one of the five British military units stand around Buckingham Palace with those furry bearskin hats, taunting passersby to make them laugh of smile.
Seriously, however, Reilly's post on the Royal couple was not his only Facebook faux pas. He listed "causing trouble" and "casually breaking the law" among his interests on his Facebook page, now deleted.
He also posted racist comments on the page. In a comment on one photo, which showed Reilly holding a rifle in each hand, he said he couldn't fit in any more guns because he had "2 many paki's scalps in it already." "Paki" is considered an offensive term by people of Pakistani descent.
In another exchange with a friend, he posted, "Watching a massive Jew gathering at the Tower of London! Have never seen so many rabbis in my life," to which his friend replied, "Get the rifle out..." Reilly replied to that by saying, "Have got one of the Jews in my sights now lmao."

You can all go "Awwwww" now.

Thanks to The Examiner for the story. 

Have an awesome weekend folks . . mine a little lacking with lots of rain and grey and no Jeffscape to play with but a also "AbFab" -  Photos on Sunday! Get yer giggle on!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Journey's End

Camera Shy but no match for the Paparazzi Nazi

Well we did it, 2 states, 1 Territory, around 5,000kms in 9 days in a rather nice hired Holden Cruze. Talked our socks off to the point that the radio was redundant and never turned on. Drove on highway's and byway's, checked out Mogo Zoo, searched long and hard for the elusive Gippsland Worm (only holes for evidence), connected with Friends and my niece in Melbourne and mastered their rather odd 'hook turn' for right hand turns from the left lane (WTF?) Toured the Great Ocean Road, saw kangaroos in the Ottway State Forest, poor possum was bitten by a cockatoo. Checked out pioneer stuff at Swan Hill, toured the snowy mountains and came to a screeching halt on the Alpine Way to allow a wombat to cross the road and couldn't be arsed getting up for the Dawn Service on ANZAC Day so settled for two soldiers raising the flags outside the Department of Defence. Paid our respects to the US Monument and finished off with a late night, too much alcohol and a game of pool.

He's eaten kangaroo and just about everything else, drunk a variety of home-brewed and bought beers.  Sampled as many different types of cigarettes as is possible (bad boy). Been sailing. Seen the inside of the Opera House, was denied ghosts at the Quarantine Station and got plastered a couple of times, drinks girly cocktails and has an obsession with Fruit Essences conditioner. Good times and now the trip's almost over. His nibs and Adam are killing Nazi Zombies and challenging the Master Chief in Halo 3. My fridge is empty, wet washing hanging all over the shop and on Thursday, my darling boy goes back home and it's back to Skype conversations, searching for work and the banality of normal life . . . well I guess I'd better get a job since I'm now totally broke, happy but broke!

Seriously, it's been a great visit. He's a joy to travel with, very easy to please. Eats everything put in front of him (albeit a little weirdly, American use of cutlery is rather odd), loved kangaroos, alive and barbecued, smoked my cigarettes but made up for it with pretty decent shoulder rubs is as irreverent as you'd expect but still holds the door open and has manners somewhere deep within. He'll talk to anyone, is honing his pleases and thank you's and well . . no . . he's reneged on the hair cut due to lack of funds (I think he rather fancies that thick mane of blackness) and no, we didn't jump out of a plane. That will have to wait for another day.  Seriously, he's just as I expected.  Hopefully, we'll connect again next year and I'll drag him along the I80 and smoke his fags . . . hey, best laid plans and all.

It's been awesome Jeff, you're no longer the best male friend I've never met. Right that's enough about him or his hats won't fit if I keep this up. Back to normal programming on Friday. Alan . . . your post cards are on their way.  Jelly, awesome job with 10thDoM in our absence.

Right, off to have a little cry because, well frankly, it just wasn't long enough.

After Dinner at Bateman's Bay - South Coast NSW

Coal Creek Mining Town - "Where can we find a Gippsland worm?"

Er . . here apparently but they were elusive

Feeding wild cockatoos at Airey's Inlet . . . it bit his finger

12 Apostles - Great Ocean Road, Southern Victoria
Cocktails with my niece in Melbourne

Roped in as an 'extra' at Ned Kelly's Trial - Old Melbourne Gaol

Loving the Alien

Getting 'munted' on Crispy's home brew with Lenore - Melbourne
At the side of the road, Ottway National Park - Great Ocean Road
Swan Hill Pioneer Museum

Australian National Museum - The Kelly Gang's Armour
Lake Hume - Alpine Way, en route to the Snowy Mountains

Australian Alps - He's wearing MY jacket (well it will be come Thursday)

The beginning of the Snowy River - Mount Kosciusko
Australian War Memorial, ANZAC Day 25, April 2011

Monument to thank the US for support during WWII
Home at last - pool night
Different codes, different game, different colours - same beer - Chargers vs the Roosters -There were no winners that night!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Aerial Ping Pong

Now much as I love being in the Ninja's company, I'm not a sports fan by any stretch but the kid wanted to see an Aussie Rules Football game, locally nick-named Aerial Ping Pong due to the leaps and 'mark's made during the game. I wish I'd read the rules first because it's just a lot of people running madly on a big green field players, waterboys, changeover guys and referees. There are two opposing goal posts and I think the object is to get the ball between the two middle ones for 4 points and between the outer posts for one point. 

So in torrential rain, we headed out to the hallowed SCG, Sydney Cricket Ground to watch some rather gorgeous bodies contort, run (man can they run!), jump, catch, fumble and among some of the most enthusiastic fans I've seen for a long time. Including the man behind me who rendered me deaf with his "Go, go, Bazza!", "Oh for Christ's sakes," his sons, not quite as enthusiastic about the game as he was. Jeff introduced himself to a hardened fan on his left and received a running commentary on the game. I introduced myself to a very passionate Grandma on my right who also gave me a few tips on what was going on.  It's chaotic but very fast and despite the wet and cold, the 2 hours went surprisingly quickly. (Although we lost our car in the carpark so exiting was a little slower).

Despite not really expecting to enjoy it and my fingers going so numb by half time I had to get him to buy me some hot chips to warm my hands - I actually liked it. Think I'll go again to be honest. It was an awesome crowd of families and good humour. Even to the point that the winning team's fans mixed with the losers without incident, something that would never happen in soccer. 

Wikipedia tells me that it's a game played with 22 players (18 on the field, 3 perpetual interchanges and 1 substitute who can only be played once during the match. It's played on a cricket field or modified football ground and the objective is to score points by passing the ball through the opponent's goal. The main way to score points is to kick the ball between the major goal posts.  During play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their body to move the ball. The primary methods are kickinghandballing (sounds a bit dirty!) and running with the ball. 

There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick is paid. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch a ball from a kick (with specific conditions), are awarded a free kick. Australian rules is a contact sport, in which players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact (such as pushing an opponent in the back), interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. Frequent physical contests, aerial marking or "speckies", fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring are the game's main attributes.

Sydney Swans, Red and White

Gathering Fans despite the rain. Red caps = Members

Er well they gave up the fight. Sadly they lost by a narrow margin

No idea what's going on

Points for enthusiasm

A tense moment perhaps?

SCG Members' Stand

Mine, no mine, no mine . . . .

The 'arial' bit of ping pong
Off south today so intermittent posting if any. Have a good week!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Road Trip Trial Run

Well it's been a week since the intrepid man with poofy hair arrived and we've been busy.  Over the past 2 days we did a 'dry run' for the big road trip next week and decided to pootle off to the Blue Mountains then on to Cowra. This is the town most famous for a bloody breakout at a POW camp there  during the second world war, one that featured in a co-write we did some time ago 'Pearl, Harbour', one I'm hopelessly optimistic I may eventually turn into a novel. 

There's no rushing 'he with the hair' so we had a rather late start, dropped some stuff off at a friend's in Kurrajong and arrived in time for a vegemite sandwich and home made cookies before heading off to Katoomba for a look-see at the Blue Mountains. The jury is still out on whether Vegemite is a food but there will be more on culinary stuff later. 

Once arriving at Katoomba, there were aspirations to descend the 860 steps on the Giant Stairway which leads to a forest walk along the Megalong valley but, inadequate footwear (him) and gammy knee (me) saw that effort postponed for another day. So we admired the view, wondered down a dirt road to Shipley Valley for what can only be described as an amazing view only to be told that 'looks like some places in the US'. OK so sightseeing isn't the way to go right now. 

We tried desperately to find a pub open for lunch at 3pm but to no avail, seems that Wednesday's is shut early day so we drove on to Bathurst, again through some of the prettiest scenery in NSW. Starving by the time we arrived, we had a steak (this time he paid and left a huge tip after being told by the waitress that it wasn't necessary - he didn't believe me!) Then Jeff takes the wheel and puts the windscreen wipers on instead of indicators, drives slow in the fast lane but finally gets the hang of doing things on the wrong side of the road and we push on the extra hour and a half to Cowra.

Now I'm not being too alarmist at this point but did notice that every hotel/motel in Bathurst appeared to be "No Vacancy" and we hadn't booked anything in Cowra so I'm beginning to worry that we'll be spending the night at a roadside rest stop in the car and visions of tourist slaughter run through my brain! Sure enough, the first hotel in Cowra has a vacancy sign but . . . no rooms . . yes folks this is Australia, we're too lazy to even turn off the vacancy sign.  Apparently some 'Mining Convention' has seen normally available motels fill to the brim. Fortunately, a budget motel down the road is called by the obliging proprietor and we secure a family room for the price of a normal one. Cheap, not so cheerful but a decent shower and crash worthy, and much to my chagrin, their digital TV works better than mine!

In the morning, after Lamingtons and coffee for breakfast (more on food later) we headed out to the Japanese Gardens, a commemorative garden to reinforce the 'goodwill' between the Japs and the Aussies and a kind of apology for killing 250 of them who tried to escape in April 1944. Pretty nice actually although being autumn, not at their best but still cool.  We also wondered out to the site of the Camp which was huge, quite comfortable for inmates at the time but ultimately humiliating for the Japanese, many of who changed their name to avoid the shame of being captured. The Italians were even allowed out into the wider community to assist on local farms but not the Japs, they weren't to be trusted and remained interred for the duration of the war.  There's not much left of the original camp other than a mown strip and a few foundations but it certainly helped to put our story characters into perspective - shame it wasn't paid research!

Then on to the Japanese War Cemetery to pay a few respects before heading back.

As I'm gunning along with cruise control set on 100, we pass the "Cowra Fun Museum". A dear old thing at the Visitor Information Centre had previously recommended it as they had some artifacts from the old camp site so, yeh, did a u-turn and went into what can only be described as a huge shed containing a shit load of junk. Interesting junk. Cobwebbed and unexplained junk.  Still, had I not gone, I wouldn't have realised that the original headstones belonging to the two soldiers killed during the breakout were actually there. At the time they were buried, they hadn't been awarded the King George Cross so the original stones were eventually replaced with the King George Cross carved in place of the original simple Calvary cross.

A quick lunch at historic Carcoar, More like Stepford or some Stephen King abandoned village where vampires lie waiting for sunset or creepy people peer out from lace covered windows. The place was a ghost town apart from a small cafe where he who eats everything tackled his first Aussie Meat Pie and Sauce. Thumbs up apparently. Although the American version of a milk shake is what we call a Thick Shake. Ah the lovely losses in translation. More about food later. 

He drove home and I can safely say has totally mastered the wrong side of the road.  Mastery of my camera however is pending. I have a load of shots of dusty windows and rooftops as we wizz past in the car.

Looking over the Grose Valley at Govett's Leap

Shipley Valley (Looks like Hawaii apparently)

Shipley Plateau
Japanese Gardens Cowra
Reluctant but I nabbed him!
Thank you to the touring couple behind me who made him pose for the pic Mwahahahahaha!

One of 26 POW Camps in Aust. during WW2

What was once the main drag at the POW Camp, Cowra

Japanese War Cemetery

Cowra Fun Museum (oh really?)

Well they're having fun
Meat Pie and Sauce (Usually eaten with fingers but we were in a cafe)

Carcoor - lights were on but nobody home

Got the knack - wipers left/indicators right
For the intrepid one's take on things, pop over to Irreverent Irrelevance. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Clayton's Sailing

Because three weeks is not a lot of time to see a country the size of Australia, the 'organised' part of Jeffscape's visit entails 'experiences' rather than just sight seeing with just enough down time to chill, enjoy the autumn sun, talk my socks off and generally lounge around. The beauty of not just driving incessantly through the country is that you also get to see how the other half lives and some pretty nice scenery if you time it right.

I'm fortunate enough to have good friends who own a sailing boat. Sunday saw us pack a picnic of prawns and salad, fresh bread rolls and wine as we headed down to the Barrenjoey Peninsular, clamoured into a small row boat with four people and a large standard poodle called Harry, eskies and supplies and boarded the boat. The weather at first was glorious and we pootled under motor (my friend's wife, not keen on sliding sideways under sail in a brisk wind - actually I'm not keen on sliding sideways in a brisk wind). We headed out towards Lion Island then into more sheltered waters at The Basin for a picnic, conversation, fine company and lovely views. Jeffscape took a hand at the helm, entertained us with chat about America and the Military and was invited back on the weekend to participate in a sailing race - we'll see if he takes them up on the offer. On the return trip, the weather turned, we all packed on waterproofs, (including Harry the large standard poodle) as we were beaten by driving rain (fortunately it wasn't too cold) and ended up with date scones and tea and a review of the Tropfest short film winners. Very civilised.  So what has he learned so far?

  • How to measure the length of a boat (since my explanation was totally erroneous)
  • The difference between the colours of port and starboard (nah he knew, just forgot)
  • That Supacenta is not an aboriginal word 
  • How to peel a prawn (hilarious effort there). The tender lad doesn't like to know what his food actually looked like before it was prepared.
  • How to serve tea from a tea pot without getting leaves in the cup
  • The joy of scones, jam and cream
  • Australian cigarettes taste the same as US cigarettes but the packet warnings are worth collecting like baseball cards
  • There's little use for knots on modern sailing boats, despite his being able to tie a bowline, cherry, reef, girth, prusik etc.
  • Standing up on the high seas for 50% of the time is hard on the legs
  • Aussie Merlot is pretty decent, and beer, and mohitos
Fine Weather Moving out

Strong North Westerley and the Yachties Love It

The Ship's Mate at the Helm

Lunch On Deck at The Basin (My friend Ros - not sure who the skinny guy drinking Merlot is)

Nothing Like the Slap of Rain in the Face to Make me Grimace

Harry has His Own Wet Weather Gear

    Saturday, April 09, 2011


    Oh Kay. . . 2 days into a visit from Jeffscape.  He's having a snooze (soldier style with a pillow over his head!)

    First day spent largely chilling. He was a little tired but more interested in acclimatising, talking, eating, roughing up my dog etc. He's exactly as I know him, a little taller than I'd expected but still Jeffscape. A little more charming when required but still Jeffscape.  I haven't structured his visit too much so there's room for spontaneity but I have booked a few things that I thought he might like.

    Yesterday I had an excursion planned. Both of us are skeptical about the existence of ghosts but hey, we all like to feel that icy chill along the spine so I booked a night ghost tour at the Sydney Quarantine Station situated on the beautiful North Head outcrop at Manly. Some of you might remember, I went there last year during the daylight hours with Clare and it was spooky but mostly rather sad that these optimistic immigrants were quarantined until deemed healthy enough to start a new life in a new country.

    The station, now the property of NSW Parks and Wildlife and preserved for posterity, was established to quarantine immigrants as late as 1985 who arrived with a variety of diseases from influenza (Spanish) to scarlet fever and even smallpox and the bubonic plague. In the 70's and 80's it was home to Vietnamese refugees until they could be resettled in Australia.

    Arrivals' baggage was disinfected in huge autoclaves, 'residents' forced to shower in Carbolic acid and the healthy were divided from the ill. Passengers were also segregated from first class to Steerage and their accommodation reflected their status aboard ship.  Quarantine periods lasted up to 3 months. Initially the situation was difficult and alienating but after several Royal Commissions and improvements, for most, it was a pleasant if not a little intimidating experience. Sadly for over 500 souls it meant death.  The rooms we stayed in were formally third class quarters but beautifully restored and all mod cons. Close to the Asiatic quarters (those of you who know Jeff will appreciate the irony) and opposite a haunted dining hall. Generally very comfortable except for my initial ability to unlock the bathroom door which kinda freaked me out a bit. Well until I was told I wasn't applying enough force to the downward door handle. Duh moment!

    Before the tour, we had dinner at the Boilerhouse Restaurant. Al Fresco since the weather was lovely, cool but clement and made even more delightful when a possum decided to clamour on his leg for food. Very nice Aussie experience and I swear the thing would have jumped in his lap if I hadn't been so eager to grab the camera . . .alas, the little marsupial took off, armed with Jeff's bread roll! One observation, Americans use cutlery differently to us and I have been labelled a tight arse for not tipping. Folks, we only tip in Australia if the service is exemplary. It's not expected. He's still giving me shit for not tipping.

    The tours, whether you do the Wharf Wander through to the Extreme Ghost Tour are always informative. We took the Adult Ghost Tour, armed with lanterns, we wondered around the buildings said to be haunted. Apparitions are rare other than a Chinaman called Mr Chen, a small girl with braids and the undertaker who watches over the Mortuary through to the hospital. A stern Matron has also been seen walking the hallowed halls of one of the hospital wards and actually inspired a story I wrote for the River of Mnemosyne on Tenth Daughter of Memory. Orbs are common, voices and footsteps and our shuttle driver even said he'd felt a pin prick in his wrist, similar to that of an intravenous line being injected.

    Now let's get one thing straight. Jeffscape is not afraid. Not of anything. I'm quite serious about that. those who know him on the blog, see the arrogant shithead that he can be. Well he is a bit but he is not afraid of anything. He was extremely skeptical but always hopeful, came armed with a mini-maglite LED torch and was determined to either prove the existence or non existence of the paranormal. I on the other hand, don't believe in ghosts but the thought freaks me out and I'm slightly terrified of the dark. Whilst I'm happy to go on a tour, wondering around the rambling site after the tour in the wee small hours was not my idea of fun but I wasn't about to be left in a room where the bell hop had told us 'a little incident happened last night' so I clung like a limpet to the poor sod. Thanks to his royal intrepidness exploring the possibility of finding Mr Chen, his belt has now been stretched 2 notches since I grabbed the back of it for at least 20 minutes while he took me into the pitch black of the Asiatic Quarters. So, there's a 33 year old Veteran determined to find a spook, and a nervous (no need to know my age right now) 'unbeliever' who began to doubt her convictions hanging on in case he left me behind and trust me, he probably would have!

    This is what happened:

    Dinner time visitor, grabbed the Jefster's trousers and ran off with a bread roll

    Lantern's for the sheepish

    Matron haunts these stairs but not tonight

    Collecting before the graveyart. Jeffscape foreground left. Hair down in the hope of a spectoral tug.

    Orbs in the graveyard, or camera flash?

    In search for Chen the Chinaman

    Paying attention for after-tour recon

    Gettin' down and dirty. Apparently girl's legs have been grabbed from this point

    Hospital . . .expect Matron to appear or a hypodermic prick

    Decent into Hell

    Ghost in the hospital? Nah . . He with the floofy hair

    He asked to be locked in the shower room and took the camera . . . no result

    The most haunted house on the place . . .gravedigger's cottage  . . .Yes he went there after the tour

    Reckoned he heard toddler's footsteps. I was freaking out . . hoping it was Bandicoots

    Gravedigger's cottage from the Asiatic Quarter
    Slightly hair raising? Er no . . .

    Our accommodation . . looks OK in the daylight

    Actually these guys look better in the daylight . . squillions
     OK He's up and about . . time to play pool.